I watched the TV series of wartime farm and really enjoyed it. It had great ideas on how to "make do" and when I saw there was a book to acompany the series I thought I would buy it.
However, to be quite honest it is a bit of a let down. While it does contain the odd recipie seen in the series and the odd "step by step" guides for toy making / repairs etc, its mostly a book about the "making of" the series detailing production, filming, etc. While this may appeal to some, I was specifically hoping for a recipe and skills book.
That being said,what is presented here is very readable and it is quite interesting to read to see how the series was made. All in all however, I was underwhelemed with the book itself.
I loved "Tales from the Green Valley" - my favourite of the programmes made thus far by Ruth, Peter and Alex. Tales From The Green Valley [DVD]
Now we have a recreation of living on a farm during World War 2 - with its challenges and celebrations. I was excited
about a book of the programme as I thought it would focus on how to do some of the things we see the historians/archaeologist
doing and I'm a fan of experimental archaeology. We do get some of that - how to make a feather duster, a few recipes including making shampoo from soapwort and a guide to quilt making, but not nearly enough for me.
What this is is a very good popular history book, with short articles covering many aspects of life and developments during the war written by the three presenters. There is information on rationing, the Bevan boys, food preserving and many other wartime areas and a timeline of what was happening during the war years to allow you to put it into context. There are also articles on their experience of wartime farming and what unique challenges it presented.
My Mum, who was born 2 years before the start of the war, will love it. I found it quite interesting, but would have liked more practical things to try.
Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Wartime Farm so this book was a must for us both. It is a really good read and provides much more in-depth information than the series had time for. It was hard to imagine there could be anything new to learn about World War II as it has had enormous coverage on the media, endless books, television series [fiction and non fiction] etc. However there was much that was new and interesting in this series. The information on Lumber Jills was new to me [although it has recently turned up again on BBC Countryfile] and it was good to see a group of hard working women finally praised for what they achieved during the war. The chapter on Home Defences was riverting - I doubt if many people had realised that farmers were engaged in secret defence work at night as well spending their days working hard to ensure the nation was fed. I think most readers will enjoy reading the recipes although I doubt many will want to make a 'baked potato pudding'!. Ginn, Goodman and Langlands are as interesting as writers as they are engaging presenters. Highly recommended. fjs
Rather than approach the Second World War from the more traditional approach of following political leaders, or descriptions of battles, this is really a peoples' history describing the impact of WW2 on agriculture, farmers, and to a degree the wider public who were dependent on the food they produced. The big picture is of course the impact of war on food imports upon which the UK was highly reliant until 1939.
The book itself if based on a TV series which I have not seen, and forms part of a loose collection of books also based on BBC documentaries examining changes in farming in the past. Whilst the previous sentence might suggest the book is rather dull this is far from the case. It's well written by three historians/archeologists who also presented theTV series. From what I can gather the text of the book expands a great deal on the TV programmes and can certainly be read and much appreciated without having watched the series first.
A fascinating insight is provided with a broad perspective of the impact of food imports being curtailed including ingenuous recipes to make use of available produce, the use of land girls to replace conscripted agricultural workers, and the impact of technological change.
The book is more than a coffee table book but is richly illustrated, as you might expect from something based on a TV series. My only minor criticism is the design decision to make it look as though it might be a contemporary 1940s book. It obviously isn't and I'm not too sure apart perhaps from a nostalgic perspective why the production team decided to adopt this approach.
Overall, highly readable, and informative without going into too much detail - there is only so much information I want on wartime farming. Five stars.
I missed the TV series so I haven't been distracted by comparisons with what is a somewhat episodic publication similar to a scrap-book. Narrative is put together in blocks of text amongst pictures and this makes for easy reading. Also I can't compare TV images to the book's photographs and illustrations but generally these are satisfactory, and the book's presentation prompts a nostalgic empathy with past times when everyone did their bit, necessity was the mother of invention, and it was make do and mend. It is enlightening to read a book about World War II that is not aggressive, but it focuses on the internal struggle for Britons to take on new roles and become self-reliant, and for Britain to produce its own food and goods that had previously been imported.
It appears the book is printed to suggest it is itself from the 1940s, but the mottled effect on pages causes them to look dirty and creased which to me is not attractive. Also there is some white lettering on coloured backgrounds that is difficult to read. However the 3 authors fit well together and their commentaries are nicely balanced. They succeed in getting away from the military fighting elements of war, but steer clear of over emphasis on `land girls'. Additional female activities are embraced, plus other civilian measures as the `Bevin Boys', and issues as rationing, blackouts, air-raid precautions etc. There is a comprehensive Index, but to support any use as a scholarly work it would require notes on sources and a Bibliography.
I note the book has attracted many 5-star reviews, and perhaps this reflects popularity of the TV series, which I understand prompted a high degree of nostalgia amongst viewers. I don't remember much about the war, but in 1940 I was sent briefly to a farm in Lincolnshire away from the family home near Sheffield, and perhaps I am more susceptible to the nostalgic narrative of `Wartime Farm' than the book deserves. I award a 4-star rating.
I read this as I really enjoy the Farm Series and have an interest in the home front during the war.
It is a continuation of the Farm Series, with Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman. This book explores how World War 2 affected the agricultural sector, both in the home and in the fields. With the help of experts and volunteers, the team show how people managed to produce goods, and adapt where needed to get through the very hard times with diminishing access to fuel, food and everyday items.
The team still appear to enjoy themselves after three previous productions wherein they take a year out of their lives, to produce the TV series and accompanying books. In its pages, the book reflects the television programme with the banter between Alex and Peter, and the fun Ruth has learning produce the different recipes and items for the home.
The writing is such you can hear the presenters' voices as you read, this makes it feel as though you are watching them and not just reading their words. It was easy to read and follow along even if you haven't seen the TV show and the instructions, recipes and pictures are good and easy to follow. The book was printed so as to appear as though it was from the era, with a slightly faded look, and marks as if it was well used and loved.
It is as I expected the book to be, having read other books from the Farm Series. I would definitely recommend it as a good general knowledge read or if you have an interest in the Farm Series or the Wartime home front.
We watched Wartime Farm on Television and admit we were hooked from the first episode. Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman presented the series so well with a really knowledgeable cast of support actors.
We were entertained and importantly educated each week.
We loved the series so got the book.
I must admit on first impressions it looks wonderful.
It is written by all three of the presenters Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman and they really have don a great job.
Full of really good stills and photographs from the series and copies of information and leaflets from the time. The plans and information are written in a good style- better than previous `Edwardian Farm and its like.
The good thing is that you can either `dip in' on things that take your fancy or read the book from beginning to end.
Recipes, articles and accounts are really fascinating
I suspect it will be a `dipping in type' of book for the subject matter is really excellent all round and I found my self revisiting pages and discovering items that I had missed.
The book follows the format of the series in that it entertains but really educates the reader as well.- Some feat.
Facts and figures abound but not to the end of making this a dull book- the converse is true.
Simply put if you loved the series or know anyone who did then this is an excellent gift that will be making its way into many Christmas stockings (wartime knitted) or whatever.
The BBC must know they are on to a winner with this one. As I write this, the series 'Wartime Farm' hasn't even started, but the book has already been released.
The format is well known - archaeologists Peter Ginn and Alex Langlands, along with social historian Ruth Goodman recreate a period of history by living on a farm exactly as they would have done at that time for a TV series.
'Tales from the Green Valley' was a quiet success some years ago, but in recent years 'Victorian Farm' and 'Edwardian Farm' really caught the public's imagination.
Both Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm had great 'books of the programme'; this one is even better.
'Edwardian Farm' suffered slightly from poor proofreading, but here there are no such errors - at least not that I spotted. What there is, is a fascinating guide to farming and rural life in wartime. As always there are unexpected challenges for Peter, Alex and Ruth- such as ploughing by night, making tiles (roofs were frequently damaged in bombing).... and ballroom dancing for a wartime 'hop'.
With the programmes yet to be broadcast at the time of writing it's difficult to say how the book fits into the programmes. However there are eight programmes scheduled and also eight chapter headings. The Victorian & Edwardian Farm books mixed the content of some of the programmes in different chapters, whilst others - like the Christmas celebrations - were less varied.
We are taken through an outline of the 'Farm at War', with details of crops grown and the equipment used. 'Mobilising People' deals with those who worked on the land and elsewhere. As might be expected 'The Home & Garden Front' shows how a home and garden were run. The recipes in 'Wartime Food' will certainly be of interest to those who welcome the current return to fashion of 'old style' living - baking from scratch, making use of cheaper cuts of meat, and generally economising. There's a short section of recipes, with some familiar - Coconut Ice - and some not so familiar such as Baked Potato Pudding.
Livestock -hens, rabbits, pigs, cows, horses - have their own chapter, as does Home Defences, with the role of the Home Guard examined. 'Make Do and Mend' is becoming a motto for today as much as it was in wartime, although not many of us will mend laddered stockings with hair, as Ruth does.
Finally ..And Carry On covers the leisure pursuits such as the aforementioned dancing and Christmas celebrations. Wonderful.
This would be a super book of social history even without the back up of the programmes. Peter, Ruth and Alex are first class writers as well as top-class historians. It's difficult to know how it could be better.
What next? Well, Peter's potted biography in the introduction tells us that he 'has swum the Rio Grande during a flash flood, been forced up a pyramid at gunpoint ... and set fire to himself (twice)." If that isn't worth writing about, I don't know what is.
I doubt if I'll recommend a book more highly this year.
I only saw a couple of episodes of this series when it was on T.V. - a shame, as the premise held quite a lot of interest for me. During the Second World War, my grandfather (a university lecturer, with a specialist interest in entomology) was seconded to the Ministry of Agriculture, to help advise on crop production/protection to try and help achieve the highest possible yields - which crops to grow to avoid pests, how best to eliminate insect pests, how to control pests, etc. he and another chap between them were responsible for the whole of Wales.
The book is beautifully presented, on pseudo-aged paper, and gives a really good feel for the nature of the 'experiment', the serious historical interests of those conducting it, and aspects of the social history of WWII, through the attempt to recreate realistic day-to-day living circumstances. There are instructions for all kinds of aspects of 'make do and mend' survivalism - accompanied by photographs of the present day participants, as well as contemporary documents and photographs.
A beautiful, engaging, quirky account of a particular part of UK social history that is well-written, by a trio of authors with a passion for history so great they're eager to live it. Lovely!
I have never watched the tv show so i am unfamiliar with its content.
I did however find the book very interesting.
There is lots of historical information about the war and what happened and how of course we had to start growing our own food.
There are lots of interesting recipes that are still relevant today and i will be trying them out, the preserved fruit especially.
There is a marmalade recipe, coconut ice, potato pudding, how to make soft cheese, meat roll, amongst others.
It even tells you how to darn socks which really made me chuckle because back then socks were made from heavy wool and were expensive and so had to be repaired, but now, we get a hole in anything we throw it away.
I especially enjoyed the homemade shampoo and hair styles and how to make quilts which im gonna have a go at as i love to sew.
Overall i found it extremely interesting and could in fact be given to school children as a txt book for when they learn about the war, its that informative.
Very highly recommended..